Kansas Legislature website updated

If you have visited the Kansas Legislature’s website lately, you probably noticed some big changes have occurred. First of all, the website is now called KLISS. No, it’s not an awkward dating move. It stands for Kansas Legislative Information Systems and Services. From the website:

KLISS integrates the information from many functions within the Legislature and presents in a hyperlinked “no wrong door” model.

In other words, one-stop shopping! Or a gateway. Or a portal.

On the home page, you will not only find the Welcome but also “Pertinent Information.” Currently it states:

This year the Kansas Legislature changed the way it manually produced bills using a “cut and paste” computer mainframe process for making law. The old process was labor intensive and difficult to support and staff because the mainframe portion of the system was over 40 years old.

It is unclear what they mean by “copy and paste” computer mainframe. Perhaps someone who is a bit more tech savvy than me would know. It sounds like they discovered CTRL+c and CTRL+v, but surely it’s a bit more complex than that.

One of the really big differences one will notice has to do with the statute search function. KLISS has handed this over to Google. I have mixed feelings about this move. On the one hand, it’s cheap. On the other hand, the ways the results are displayed are not the most useful. Google usually applies an algorithm that determines a relevancy based upon the URL, the main headings in the webpage, the keywords and how many other websites link to the page. When using Google to search statutes, the results almost appear random. Also, Google will not search using synonyms which means if you search “alcohol,” you’ll most likely miss the sections on “intoxicating liquors.”

That being said, anyone who has had me in class should know that I am actually not a huge fan of jumping onto a computer when starting a research project. The “alcohol vs. intoxicating liquors” in the Kansas Statutes is just one example of why I think it’s a bad idea. I prefer using an index. And the index is where KLISS gets it right. At the top of the statute web page is the index. Select a letter, and it takes you to what looks like the index as it appears in the paper statutes. Only with hyperlinks! If I could have one wish … well … it would be to be able to teleport. But if I had a second wish, it would be that all online statutes did this.

As far as bill tracking is concerned, the interface is more streamlined but basically the same. There doesn’t appear to be a search function available aside from a simple filter using the bill number, type, origination and sponsor.

So go check out the new Kansas Legislature website! Let me know what you think of the changes.

W. Blake Wilson, Instructional & Research Services Librarian